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August 3rd, 2012

01:48 pm - Incomplete thoughts

I've had a bunch of thoughts rattling around in my brain for a while now -wanted to get them out on "paper" to start making sense of them.  This entry doesn't necessarily come to a full-stop at the end, nor is every point fully fleshed out.  I would welcome your thoughts, if you have any.

I’ve been struggling a lot in light of the recent additional publicity towards marriage rights.  On one hand, I am deeply, deeply bothered by the people on both sides of the issue who do not know how to articulate themselves with charity.  Note, charity does not mean acceptance, but courtesy and respect for fellow persons. 

On the other hand, I am very bothered by my own inability to come up with the “right thing” to say.  I know how to express the Church view on marriage and sex (can’t really talk about one without the other).  But what I don’t know is how to express a compassionate, compelling argument for the non-Catholic, perhaps non-Christian audience.  I almost feel cowed into silence because I fear people will call me a hater.  Couldn’t be further from the truth, but I internalize debates and take things personally.  Therefore, I’ve said nothing recently. 

I think the marriage rights movement to a certain degree transcends political lines.  Almost everyone nowadays has at least one homosexual acquaintance.  And almost anyone can get pulled in on an emotional level – why can’t they have what I have?  Why can’t two people in love get married?  It’s their right!

That’s a large part of this issue – marriage is NOT a right.  No individual, no couple, has the right to get married.

Based on divorce rates and on the number of couples cohabitating today, it seems that America is loudly crying for the end of marriage.  Marriage, to a growing number of Americans, is an archaic construct.  It’s very peculiar to me that the groups often advocating most verbally for homosexual marriage rights are the same groups who proclaim that marriage is old-fashioned and has no meaning/no place in today’s society.  Isn’t this a glaring dichotomy?

Is this merely an example of rebellion?  Let’s say I give up sweets for Lent.  I don’t eat a whole bunch anyway, but all the sudden, since I am being denied something, I want it more.  My body is rebelling against the mandates I’ve placed upon it.  The primary reason I want the dessert is because I have denied myself the opportunity.  I hear “no” so my stomach protests more strongly “it’ll make you feel good!”  I know the typical societal reaction is to not deny oneself anything.  Yet I know if I cave over such a small thing as sweets in Lent, then I will not necessarily remain steadfast in the face of a more important time of self-control.

I guess that’s part of the issue.  Marriage isn’t about just what I want or what will make me feel good.  Marriage isn’t all about me and how I feel.  It is about sacrifice and the death of my selfish side, especially once children are introduced into the picture.  As long as marriage is about what I want or what makes me feel good, it’s not going to work.  Let’s face it, marriage is hard work.  If we have never experienced sacrifice, never chosen self-discipline, why would one want to take on marriage where one is daily called to die to one’s own needs for the goods of another?


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April 26th, 2012

01:07 pm - Mentally exhausted
I volunteered to be interviewed by ABC (out of DC) for a piece they're doing on embryo adoption.  The interview was today.  at my house.  with my kids extremely present.  I have mixed feelings on the interview.  I feel passionately about EA and was able to speak with the reporter for about a half an hour last week when scheduling the interview.  However, I went into the interview concerned about being able to adequately represent the Church and our own personal lives. 

Those of you who have ever spent time around small children know that it's not easy to have a continuous conversation.  The interview was so choppy, due to darling interruptions, that I'm not even sure if I managed to say what I wanted let alone will it survive the editing process.

And then there's the fed.ex drama.  Short version - I was able to get my bloodwork done for my hormone testing.  Since I don't have a Napro doctor here, I have to send not my bloodwork, but my actual blood (well, serum actually) to Omaha to be tested.  It's been an ordeal just getting the blood drawn (do only idiots work in public establishments?) and then fed.ex happened. 

My shipping location has been great, but basically my overnight, dry ice packed box of "lab samples" was denied by fed.ex.  For no reason.  The shipping store has bent over backwards trying to get answers as to why some fed.ex employees claim my package will ship and others won't.  At any rate, it was picked up from my house this morning but now I have no idea whether or not it will actually make it to Omaha or get lost in transit.

We have a showing of the house in about 2 hours.  Which means I need to finally clean up from lunch, drink my coffee, clean everything else, wake the kids early from their naps, and vacate on this fine rainy day. 

My brain hurts, just a little.

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April 12th, 2012

02:57 pm - Adoption
Well, to avoid the risk of repeating myself unnecessarily, I've updated my embryo adoption blog.  Feel free to wander over there, if you're so inclined. 

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March 26th, 2012

02:38 pm - Travel with Kids
I have a question for those of you who have either traveled a lot by car with children, or have opinions on traveling in the car with kids. 

I have two possible options developing in my head (and on paper) for our journey south.

A.  Wed., May 16, VA to Nashville, appx. 10 hours.  Th., May 17, Nashville to Dallas, appx 10 hours.  Fri., May 18, Dallas to Ft. Hood, appx 3 hours.


B.  Wed., May 16, VA to Memphis, appx 13 hours.  Th., May 17, Memphis to Dallas, appx 7 hours.  Fri., May 18, Dallas to Ft. Hood, appx 3 hours.

The goal is to leave early Wed and Th morning (maybe 5 am?) so that the kids will sleep in the car initially.  And then, hopefully, find some free play area for the kids to enjoy at our meal stops and at our evening destinations.  While option A has more manageable increments, option B allows for playtime with Dallas friends.

Thoughts?  (of course, there's no telling how long each stage will really take us...) 

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March 19th, 2012

01:26 pm
Well, great.

Our house twin (same floor plan and colors, located up the street from us) was just listed "for rent" today.  For about $100 less a month that we were planning to list ours. 

I'm hoping our house will outshine them on the interior, but I won't know until that renting agent puts pictures up online.  We can drop our planned price a bit, but not that much.

We meet with our rental agent on Friday (and list the property early next week).  Hopefully the competition will be updated online by then and we can come up with a good pricing/advertising strategy.

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March 16th, 2012

01:37 pm - Moments
Kids are gross.  And wonderful.

Gross - Mac spent a decent amout of time trying to wipe his snotty nose all over my shirt while we washed his hands at the kitchen sink.

Wonderful - He changed his tactic, put his arm around me, and said "pat pat pat" while patting my back.

Gross - Cora had a major hissy fit yesterday sparked in some way by bubbles.  Tantrum for 20+ minutes.

Wonderful - She chased Mac around the house, trying to kiss him "kiss you, kiss you".

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March 8th, 2012

01:10 pm - Some Answers
Bryan finally got his orders.  We are definitely moving to Fort Hood.  And we definitely have to report no later than June 4.

Since Texas schools finish up prior to Memorial Day weekend, I think we're going to try to be in place just prior to that.  Our tentative timeline and driving route is to leave either May 15 or 16 and drive to Nashville.  Spend one night.  Drive to Dallas.  Spend one night.  Contact post housing and see if an on-post residence is available for us yet (we've been quoted a 0-30 day wait time from the time Bryan clears his current post).  If yes, we'll drive to Fort Hood and see the house.  If no, we'll either drive to Hood anyway and tour the model homes or drive straight down to Houston for the weekend.  Either way, I think we'll end up spending that weekend in Houston and enjoy such luxuries as home cooked meals and furniture and, if the weather allows, swimming in an outdoor pool.

Hopefully there won't be too much of a lag for us to actually get housing.  And, hopefully, there won't be too much of a lag with the delivery of our household goods.

I really, really, really want to trade-in my car for a new Honda Odyssey.  As vans go, it's pretty awesome.  We're still running the numbers to see if we can make that work - no exchange would take place until beginning of May anyway. 

While the financial benefits are great, I'm still leary about living on post.  I've grown accustomed to having a house my style and being able to do what I want with it.  A large part of my hesitation comes with leaving our first house behind; there are a lot of memories associated with this little blue house!  And, I'm not gonna lie, I'm not entirely sure I want to be surrounded by the military lifestyle. I'm willing to give it a try once.  Who knows, we may love the conveniences living on post offers.

I'm so ready for another baby.  Of course, in my head, that means another two, since mentally I've convinced myself that babies come in twos.  ;-)  Each of my three female neighbor friends had a baby boy last year.  Two of my three friends who gave birth around the same time as me in 2010 are now in the final trimester with their second child. 

It's weird, I wasn't sure I'd yearn for babies again after having some of my own.  I was one of those lucky women who loved being pregnant (well, about 90% of the time); perhaps that makes me yearn more?  I don't feel the same way I did in the "time before children" - that wanting/waiting was excruciating. 

We hope to start the next adoption process late summer/early fall - sometime after our rental income starts coming in.  We've decided that it would be scandalous for us to do an embryo transfer if Bryan were deployed (nothing like a good little Catholic girl getting knocked up while her husband's deployed), so the specific type of adoption we'll pursue depends on Bryan's upcoming deployment schedule.  He's hoping to look into that in the next few weeks.  If Bryan will be gone soon, then we'll pursue domestic infant adoption.  If he'll be around for a while, we'll do another embryo adoption.

So that's that.  A not so brief update on some of the many trains of thought coursing through my head.

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February 23rd, 2012

02:12 pm - An Update
Referring to the title:  sometimes, I just like to state the obvious.

Bryan/Army - We said yes to Korea.  Were countered with a different (better) job at Fort Hood..  Said yes to that.  Spent two weeks planning for life in cental Texas.  Were told Fort Hood was a no-go and Fort Bliss was best option (El Paso).  Bryan got very upset.  Then told Fort Hood was back on except with a later timeframe - late July instead of May.  And now we're a week in to version V, which is the same as Version II, move to Fort Hood in May.  Location is set in stone, timeline still has some wiggle room. 

And that's why I've been rather quiet on the job front - my head was spinning too much.

Mac - He's all BOY.  He loves to wrestle with Cora and abounds with energy.  Last night's Ash Wednesday Mass consisted of twenty minutes of full on scaling me like a mountain, followed by another twenty minutes of dashing/hopping up and down the side porch.  And then another 30 minutes all mixed in between.  When Mac is in a good mood, his primary means of locomotion is galloping.  He talks/babbles near constantly and will occasionally pop out full complete sentences "I want more cheese, please."  Any number of words can be substituted in for cheese. 

Cora - While Mac can play quite happily on his own for a while, Cora frequently needs a little more interaction.  If she's pushing her grocery cart around, she'll tell you "bye" fifteen times before she packs up her purse, her baby of choice (baby doll, stuffed animal, plate of toy food, etc), and "goes shopping".  She still loves climbing in baskets - they have a laundry basket that holds a lot of their stuffed animals.  Cora loves to dump everything out, climb in, and say "Mommy, push you."  She LOVES to color.  If you ask if she wants to color, she'll start bobbing up and down with anticipation while the supplies get set up.  However, she's got the weirdest coloring style - it's almost frantic.  She'll grab a color at random, scribble as fast as she can, throw it back into the bucket of crayons, and repeat.  Cora manages to make coloring almost look like an athletic event with the effort she puts into it.

Both kids are requiring me to constantly buy clothes/shoes.  This morning they both were wearing 3T sweaters, 4T t-shirts, 2T pants, 4T-5T socks, and size 9-10 rain boots.  And Cora's shirt, brand-new, is snug across the shoulders.  Why are most little girl shirts so fitted?  The thrifty part of me really wants to take advantage of winter-clothing-clearances and buy for next year, but I haven't the foggiest idea what sizes will fit them in the fall.  Especially since I'm struggling with clothes for them now.  Well, and we're moving to a warmer climate.

On a less exasperating note, both Cora and Mac are developing their own senses of humor.  I was dolling out vanilla wafers the other day - each child received two.  Mac came up and asked for one for Daddy, so I acquiesed.  And then he ran off and ate it behind the couch.  Sometimes, Cora will pretend something is stuck and ask Daddy for help.  Once Bryan's out of his chair, she'll race over and claim his recliner as her own - the whole "stuck" scenario having been a ruse.

Me - I need to take/make more time for myself each week but I've been doing a pretty lousy job of escaping by myself somewhere while Bryan's around.  As temper tantrums have started escalating recently (the kids, not me), I know my patience is going to disappear faster.  And that once a week getaway will be ever so much more needed.  Perhaps I'll incorporate more "me-time" into Lent?
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January 26th, 2012

02:14 pm - What I Know So Far, Part III (swirling thoughts)
I was originally completely overwhelmed by the idea of moving to an area that doesn't speak much English and is so heavily populated.  Heck, I've barely even used public transportation in my life, so even those thoughts are mildly intimidating.

Then I thought back to our Rome days.  First few weeks, I was overwhelmed by the sheer foreignness of, well, everything.  And then we got braver and started venturing off campus in small groups.  Within a short while, all of us gained enough confidence to use the buses, the metro, the maps, and "pretend Italian" to get around.  And we survived.  And I was only 19 then! 

So why shouldn't I, a fairly mature 30 year old, be able handle the "wilds" of Korea with two 2 year olds in tow? 

Sorting/packing/moving will likely be a nightmare.  We are only authorized to take 50% of our HHG (household goods).  However, 50% is described as what would typically fill a 3 bedroom dwelling, so I don't think we'll have to leave that much behind. (weird, huh?) We can also take one car. 

The military posts will loan you furniture and appliances for 90 days, which is the approximate window they give for delivery of HHG.  You can rent furniture/appliances even if you live off post (I think) and for more than 90 days, if needed. 

I'm worried about Bryan's potential commute time.  This is a valid concern for any post we move to, I just have more details for Korea given my recent research.  If we live on-post, then Bryan's commute will be 30-45 min each way.  If we live off post, his commute will be at least closer to an hour each way.  There's no way of knowing what his actual work hours will be like, so I have to wonder how much we'd see him Monday-Friday.

On the flip side, by not owning where we'd live, there'd be no home projects, no painting or grass cutting to do on weekends.  We'd be able to explore and even, maybe, relax on weekends.  Apparently, Korea is a great launching point for travel on that side of the world - Japan, China, the Philippines, even Australia and New Zealand.

I'm worried about the impact of Korea, or whatever Bryan's next assignment ends up being, on Bryan's military career.  As long as it's not a negative impact, we should be okay.  I think.  I hope.  

We would not pursue embryo adoption while in Korea.  However, we would probably look to see if we'd be allowed to adopt a Korean child while in Korea.  South Korea and the US have a very positive relationship regarding adoption - I'm just not sure how things proceed if we're living in country.  We might possibly even consider adopting a special needs (minor correctable need, for example cleft lip/palate, cross-eyed...) 

It probably comes as no surprise that I've had problems sleeping this week with my brain racing so.  Well, that, and the flu struck us Sunday (including me).

PS.  We decided to rent our house instead of sell. We were going to lose 20k+ if we sold, but we might break even or even profit (after refinancing) if we rent.  Weird market.  We've interviewed property management companies and have found one we're comfortable with.  So that's one big relief in this time of indecision!

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01:49 pm - What I Know So Far, Part II (Korea specifics)
Map of US military posts in South Korea.

Some info on Korea:

Seoul is about 200 miles northwest of where we'd be.  Seoul is about a three hour train ride from the Taegu/Daegu area ("T" is old spelling).   Korea as a whole is very industrialized, with mass transits systems, and broad internet accessibility.  As a side note, it's 14 hours ahead of EST. 

As far as we know (if Bryan takes this job), he'd be working out of Camp Carroll (listed bottom left on map).  However, Camp Carroll has no housing for families. 

Camp Carroll is one of the smaller camps that makes up Daegu.  Family housing is provided at Camps George and Walker (visible on map at bottom right).  Free shuttle service is offered between all these locations (and also Camp Henry, a third post very close to George and Walker; Henry is primarily administrative).  My information varies, but it looks like the commute is between 30 - 45 minutes between the family housing areas and Carroll.  Normal post amenities are offered at Camps George, Henry, Carroll, and Walker, like a commissary (grocery store), PX (Walmart/Target), American fast food, schools, daycares, recreational facilities, religious services...  Well, some of those four posts do not offer all the above amenities.   

I think I'd chose to live as close to Camp Walker as possible.

Temporary lodging is offered while we either A. wait for housing to become available on either George or Walker or B. find off post housing.  There is a wait list for on-post housing, anywhere from one to eight months.  If we live off post, we can either live in the Waegwan area, close to Carroll, or near George and Walker. 

I've already come across the names of two highly recommended English speaking realtors and several high rises frequented by military families.  If you have the time, I'd highly recommend looking over www.kool-house.com.  Anyway, it's one of the recommended Korean realty offices.  Look at apartments and then Centro Palace - it's the most commonly used by military living off post in Daegu.  It's interesting to note the architecture styles of these high rises - typically no closets but lots of sun porches (and gorgeous!).  If you look closely, you can see some amazing views from some of the other apartments, if you play with the website for a while.  On-post housing does not compare in the slightest.

I know our housing allowance and my hypothesis is that we could probably get at least a 3 bed, maybe 4 bed apt.  Though those are total guesses since no prices are listed on websites.  My hypothesis is formed by information from the last few years on military mom type chat sites...

Daegu is very safe, especially by American standards.  Supposedly, it's not uncommon to see 5 or 6 year old Korean children utilizing mass transit by themselves!  There are several parks nearby (10 - 25 min, depending on choice of park), including a zoo and an amusement park.  So while Daegu has a population of 2.5 million, the great outdoors are not unreachable.

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